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  • Meet Constantine Fahlberg. He’s a Russian chemist who, back in 1879, was working with

  • some compounds derived from coal tar. One evening he was eating bread and found it tasted

  • sweet. His napkin was sweet too, and his water tasted like syrup.

  • Fahlberg had discovered the first artificial sweetener - Saccharin. It’s one of the many

  • things you can use to make your food or drinks sweeter. We know that too much sweet stuff

  • is bad for us, but are some sweeteners better than others?

  • There’s so much information out there that it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction.

  • Let’s unpack what’s really best for you.

  • First up is natural sweeteners. They come from things found in nature, like sugar from

  • sugar cane, honey from bees, and maple syrup from maple trees.

  • Plain old table sugar is the refined form of sucroseit’s the combination of equal

  • portions of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. It has a lot of calories and not

  • much nutritional value. It has a high glycemic index- so the energy we get from eating it

  • peaks quickly then dies off. You know, a “sugar high”.

  • Honey is also made up of glucose and fructose, but not in equal proportions. Honey is about

  • 30 percent glucose, 40 percent fructose, the rest mostly water. A teaspoon of honey has

  • more calories than a teaspoon of sugar, but it's also sweeter. You probably don’t need

  • as much of it. Honey also has other benefitslike antioxidants that are good for your

  • heart health.

  • And our body can’t distinguish between natural sugars like honey and processed ones like

  • table sugarwe absorb them in the same way.

  • The inbetweeners are derived from something natural, but refined and processed in a way

  • that changes the chemical composition of the original product.

  • The most popular is high fructose corn syrup. It’s made by adding enzymes to regular corn

  • syrup, that convert glucose into fructose - making it sweeter.

  • In the United States high fructose corn syrup has been widely criticised for contributing

  • to the obesity epidemic, but there isn’t any research that says it’s a direct cause.

  • The problem it’s in so many processed foodsthings like soda and candy and things

  • you might not expect - like bread, cereal and crackers. Outside of the U.S., it’s

  • not so cheap or widely used.

  • High fructose corn syrup is similar to table sugar in calorie content and the way it’s

  • absorbed into the body. The difference is sugar is made up of 50/50 glucose and fructose

  • while HFCS is more like 55/45.

  • This matters because fructose converts to fat more easily than glucose does. Its also

  • not as good at telling our body that we are full. It can cause insulin resistance and

  • increase risks of heart disease, and its been linked to fatty-liver disease.

  • And if you think Agave syrup is healthier for youit has an even a higher concentration

  • of fructose - up to 90%! It’s not actually a “nectar”, but a juice extracted from

  • the core of the agave plant that’s heated and filtered to turn into sugars. It’s bad

  • news bears.

  • There are a few different types of artificial sweeteners availableincluding Saccharin,

  • that one Falhberg discovered back in 1879.

  • Sweeteners are hundreds, or even thousands of times sweeter than sugar. The idea is you

  • only need a tiny bit to get the same taste as a teaspoon of sugar - so there’s not

  • many calories

  • Some of these products are totally artificial, while others like Splenda are made by tweaking

  • the chemical structure of sucrose to make it sweeter. One product commonly confused

  • with artificial sweeteners is stevia. It’s from the leaf of a South American plant and

  • in its pure form, has zero calories.

  • The body responds to these sweeteners differently than it does to sugar. There have been studies

  • into negative health effects, but not a lot of firm conclusions. Research does show these

  • products can actually lead to weight gain - people consume more because they think it’s

  • healthier.

  • So what’s actually best? Sugar and honey are marginally better for our health than

  • high fructose corn syrup, and agave is the worst offender. Experts say that people over

  • consume artificial sweeteners, so be careful to just add a little bit.

  • In the end, reducing the consumption of all sweet things is generally better for your

  • health. Everything in moderation, right?

Meet Constantine Fahlberg. He’s a Russian chemist who, back in 1879, was working with

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B2 UK TOEIC fructose syrup glucose corn syrup sweeter

Are Some Sweeteners Better Than Others?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2015/12/14
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